“If you want 2018 to be your year, don’t sit on the couch and wait for it. Go out. Make a change. Smile more. Be excited. Do new things. Clean your apartment. Throw away what you’ve been cluttering. Unfollow negative people on social media. Go to bed early. Wake up early. Be fierce. Don’t gossip. Show more gratitude. Do things that challenge you. Be brave.”
I was lucky enough to welcome the new year from Japan, my absolute favourite place to be!
It’s traditional in Japanese culture to have a quiet night in with family on New Year’s Eve, and then wake up early to catch the first sunrise of the year. They call it hatsuhinode, and I feel so fortunate to have experienced it.
I mean, just look at that view.
Unfortunately, during my travels I caught the worst flu bug of my life. I was sick for three weeks, and I don’t just mean a little cough and sniffle – I had an insane fever, terrible body aches and a bone-deep exhaustion that I honestly thought would never leave me.
Thankfully I’m fully healed now, and even more grateful for my health and energy.
I wanted to share a few of the things that helped me shake the sickness – there are so many bugs around at the moment, and I know there are a ton of you out there who are suffering just as much as I did.
Read on for my tips on healing your body naturally!
Eat Healthy, Nutritious Food
This one is a no-brainer. When you’re sick, it’s more important than ever to provide your body with as many nutrients as possible.
I eat a vegan diet primarily based on fruits, vegetables, legumes, starches… basically, any delicious whole foods! Towards the end of last year, however, my good intentions did slip a little. I was eating crisps and doughnuts like crazy and definitely indulged myself over the Christmas period. Don’t get me wrong – it’s completely fine to treat yourself and not worry about eating perfectly balanced meals all the time, but I wasn’t making any effort to get in the fruits and vegetables like I usually would. I definitely think this contributed to my sickness – my immune system was down and I just didn’t have the nutrients and energy to fight off the dreaded flu bug.
If you’ve been struck down by an illness, I suggest cutting out the junk food (or at least cutting down) and making your meals as colourful and healthy as possible. Create your own green juices (I swear by a mixture of kale, spinach, lemon, ginger, cucumber, mint and spirulina) and drink them as often as possible. Eat three plant based meals a day and make them count – hearty salads, sweet potatoes, warming oatmeal and spicy vegetable soups will replenish your energy and give your body the strength to battle any bugs that come your way.
Balance Your Gut Bacteria
If (like me!) you had to take antibiotics to fight your illness, it’s super important to take some form of probiotic both during and after this time.
But why are probiotics so important? Here’s a simple answer: we have a mixture of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria in our gut. Ideally, we should have more of the good bacteria to keep everything running smoothly. When you take antibiotics, they kill both types – not just the one that is making you sick. Probiotics can help you replenish that good bacteria to restore a healthy balance.
Choosing a probiotic supplement can be a minefield – there are so many different types, and some are better than others. Livestrong.com have a fantastic guide to choosing a good probiotic, so definitely check that out before perusing the aisles of your local health store.
It’s totally fine to go for the natural option – you don’t necessarily need to buy a bottle of probiotic tablets (those things can be expensive!) I ended up taking supplements along with consuming probiotic-rich foods. See below for some surprisingly delicious natural options!
- Cultured non-dairy yoghurt
- Unpasteurised sauerkraut
- Miso paste
- Sourdough bread
- Pickled vegetables
If you’ve decided to go with probiotic supplements, I recommend that you continue taking them for a few weeks after your course of antibiotics. If in doubt, consult your doctor.
Be honest – are you drinking enough of the clear stuff?
When I got sick in Japan, I definitely wasn’t drinking enough water. I ran a pretty high fever, so of course I became dehydrated and felt even worse. Even if your temperature is normal, it’s still crucial to drink a good amount of water to quite literally flush the sickness out of your system.
And it has to be water. No coffee, no store-bought juices and definitely no fizzy drinks. I’ve been sticking to pure mineral water, peppermint tea and super-hydrating coconut water (seriously, that stuff is a lifesaver!) Since being back in London, I’ve also developed a new habit – starting each day with a mug of hot water and lemon juice. It may just be me, but I always feel so cleansed and refreshed after drinking something containing citrus!
So, how much water should you be drinking? The official guidelines say to aim for 1-2 litres per day, but I’ve been getting through at least three litres recently. Don’t overdo it, but definitely make it a priority to drink as much water as possible during and after your illness. I’ll raise a glass to that!
Being sick is the perfect opportunity to put your feet up and relax. I’m guilty of constantly racing around ticking things off my to-do list, and rarely make time to sit down and chill out. The ability to take time for yourself is incredibly important for your mental health, so don’t feel bad about watching TV or reading a book for hours on end – think of it as a vacation for your brain!
I’ve been completely obsessed with two shows on Netflix recently – they’re both subtitled, so you really have to pay attention to what’s going on, but the content is totally worth it.
The first is ‘Terrace House‘, a Japanese reality show. If you know me, you’ll know that I love anything Japanese, and Terrace House is no exception. The best way I can describe it is a less intense version of Big Brother – they live together in a beautiful house, there’s no competition and they are able to continue with their regular jobs and lives. There’s a huge focus on relationships and as the Japanese can be very subtle, it’s a really interesting peek into their culture.
I fell in love with all the characters – they’re all entertaining and interesting in their own unique ways. I was lucky enough to meet Mizuki (fourth from left) when I visited Tokyo – we popped into the coffee shop that she works in, hoping to see her. She was as sweet as I had imagined!
The second show is ‘Hello, My Twenties‘, a Korean drama. It’s completely different from Terrace House – it follows five young girls living together in Seoul, and the crazy situations that they find themselves in. This is my first venture into K-dramas, and I’m already hooked. I may be manifesting a trip to South Korea sometime this year…
These two shows did wonders at taking my mind off how terrible I felt. What are your favourite shows or movies to binge-watch when you aren’t feeling your best?
Be Kind To Yourself
Perhaps the most important tip of all is to treat yourself with compassion and love. Take some time off work if you feel like you need it, and do the things that make you happy.
Remember, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t get everything ticked off your to-do list. Think about it this way: how would you treat your best friend or partner if they were sick? You wouldn’t tell them they were lazy and unmotivated, and nag them to get their work done – at least, I hope you wouldn’t! More likely, you’d encourage them to get some rest and focus on their health. Treat yourself with that same kindness.
Once you start feeling a little better, practice self-care in other ways – do a little light exercise, clean and declutter your home, give yourself a manicure. Trust me, you deserve it!
One thing that really helped me was meditation. Every day for just ten minutes, I lie down and listen to a guided meditation – it’s the perfect opportunity to recharge and refresh, and maybe learn something about yourself at the same time! Never underestimate the power of the mind when it comes to healing yourself from sickness or injury.
If you haven’t been feeling your best, I hope these tips can help in some way. Even if you feel fine, remember that prevention is better than cure – I’ve learned that looking after myself now will majorly pay off in the long run.
Here’s to a happy, healthy 2018!